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Home Warranty Lawsuit Goes to the New Jersey Supreme Court

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Trenton, NJPlaintiffs who bring home warranty lawsuits against home warranty companies commonly assert allegations of shoddy workmanship, delays or denials of claims. However in this case, the plaintiff alleged violations to New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Truth in Consumer Contract, Warrant and Notice Act with regard to a contract that was allegedly misleading in stated coverage periods, amongst other claims.

The home warranty lawsuit went all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which has agreed to review the case.

According to Law360 12/01/17) plaintiff Amanda Kernahan entered into a home warranty service agreement with defendants Home Warranty Administrator of Florida Inc. and Choice Home Warranty. The agreement, initiated in 2015, was intended to cover the repair, or replacement of home appliances and systems (although what the ‘systems’ were, were not identified).

In her home warranty insurance lawsuit, Kernahan stated that the cover page of the agreement reflected a coverage period that extended from April 23, 2015 through to October 23, 2018 – a period of 42 months, or three and one-half years.

However, according to Kernahan the second page of the home warranty service contract specified a coverage period that reflected a time frame different from that reflected on the contract cover page.

“[C]overage starts 30 days after acceptance of application by Us [sic] and receipt of applicable contract fees and continues for 365 days from that date,” according to court records. That suggests a coverage period of just over a year, or less than a third of the coverage period suggested by the cover page of the contract.

The plaintiff also asserted that the final page of the contract document, entitled ‘Mediation,’ failed to spell out that in accepting the contract Kernahan was waiving her right to bring a home warranty lawsuit.

She asserted bad faith insurance, amongst other claims.

The defendants, according to court documents attempted to have the case dismissed or, alternatively to force arbitration as outlined in the arbitration provisions in the contract.

The trial court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, or alternatively compel arbitration. Defendants appealed, and in June a two-judge appellate panel upheld the trial court’s ruling that the arbitration clause in Kernahan’s agreement could not be enforced under requirements established by Atalese v. US Legal Services Group LP. In that case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that such provisions needed to be clear and not ambiguous in any way.

The appellate panel determined that arbitration provisions in Kernahan’s contract were ambiguous, and unclear.

But the defendants were not done, and took their case all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On Friday, December 1 the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Stay tuned.

The home warranty lawsuit is Amanda Kernahan v. Home Warranty Administrator of Florida Inc. et al., Case No. A-1355-16T4, in the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

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READER COMMENTS

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Our claim was submitted on 01/05/20 and was assigned to Express Home Services on 01/05/20. On 01/06/20 the technician (Anthony Besecke direct number 903-841-2094) submitted details pertaining to our system failure which was the blower motor. While he was in our living room, he was told it was covered and ordered the part and had it immediately shipped out. A couple hours after he left, he called us saying he received an email from Choice Home Warranty stating that the service would not be covered. He suggested I call Choice Home Warranty to find out why the claim was denied when it is a covered part and was just approved to be fixed. He also asked us to call him and let him know why it was denied.

1-6-2020 I called Choice Home Warranty and I spoke with Elizabeth employee # (would not provide # or last name) she proceeded to argue with me for over an hour stating “they did not have a decision” at that time as well as advised me that they tell all their technicians that come out not to tell the customer whether or not the claim is approved or denied and they should stay quiet and let the customer receive an approval or denial letter. I explained to her that I had NEVER received a letter from them about approval or denial. She then changed and said it would be an email. She stated I should receive a decision within a couple hours (I did not receive an email until the next morning which was a denial letter). I asked to speak with a manager and after a 10 minute hold, she came back on the line and stated there was not a manager there and that I would need to call back tomorrow (1/7/2020) and ask customer service to connect me to the Determination department. I insisted she take note of everything I said so I didn’t have to continue to repeat the entire story time after time, she assured me she did. I agreed to call back the next morning.

1-7-2020 I called Choice Home Warranty and spoke with Melissa employee # (would not provide # or last name) and asked her to transfer me to the Determination Department. She asked what the issue was, and I replied that there should be notes on the account. She then refused to transfer me to the Determination Department because a decision had already been issued so I would need to visit their website and submit an appeal. I demanded to speak with a manager. After 20 minutes of her telling me what the manager was going to tell me I again demanded to be connected by phone with a manager who could speak for themselves. I was put on another 10-minute hold that was finally answered by Fredida (manager) employee # 18521256. After going back and forth with her for over an hour, Fredida submitted an appeal to the case management department and stated I would receive the contact information within 4 hours. I instead received an email stating I should receive the contact information for a Case Manager within 24 hours. After another few hours I received the information to our assigned case manager, Paula Monsalve, who requested I contact her right away. I called the number and entered the extension and was sent straight to voicemail. I left a voicemail that included the case number, name on account, contact number and asked for a return call as soon as possible. I also followed the call up immediately with an email letting her know I had called and left a message. An hour later I tried to call again and still it went straight to voicemail, I tried 3 additional times and still was sent straight to voicemail (during the stated hours of her being available, I however did not leave additional messages). I spoke with the technician, Anthony, that came out to fix the unit yesterday (01-06-2020) and told him what they said the reason for denial was. He explained that there was very little dust on the blower motor (he took pictures) and that it is impossible for consumers to clean those parts as they would have to completely take the unit apart to access the blower motor. He further explained that if the consumer did in fact try to clean the blower motor it would cause it to be unbalanced among other things, which IS in the (“CHW”) clause as NOT COVERED. He stated that they were deliberately trying to avoid fixing the AC unit that has worked for 23 years until now. I have a copy of the diagnosis that Anthony submitted to (“CHW”) and nowhere does it state that it is broken due to lack of proper servicing. The AC unit was just serviced in September 2019.
01/09/2020 I finally received a return call from the case manager, who left a message on my voicemail and also sent an email. I was asked again to return her call, which I tried to do but got voicemail again. (She did note in her email that we would need to speak clearly and include certain things in the voicemails because ALL voicemails are translated into email messages). I received a call back from case manager, Paula Monsalve and she stated she had read over the Technicians report and saw the pictures he sent in and that the service would NOT be covered because it was due to lack of maintenance. CHW “claims” that the people who makes the decision to approve or deny claims are Licensed technicians in the fields of what they cover (such as electricians, HVAC technicians, plumbers, etc.) I asked for the name and employee number which she could not provide of the “licensed technician” and then placed me on hold and came back to tell me that they ARE NOT all licensed but do not have to be to approve or deny services they only have to be if they are working on the unit in question. I asked her to contact the Technician THEY (CHW) sent out and ask him if the issue was due to lack of maintenance or from normal wear and tear… she said she would call but it would NOT change the decision. I ask her how they determined the denial and she stated it was based on what the Technician sent to the company which she began to read to me and it was NOTHING like the paperwork he left for our records, it was in fact the email they (CHW) had sent to us. I then asked for a copy of the information and was denied stating it is for their records ONLY but that I could contact the company that came out and ask them for the records of what was sent to CHW. I asked for her corporate number and was told that she had an address but no phone number she could give me. I took down the address (seen at bottom of notes). I then ask to speak to her supervisor, and she proceeded to tell me what he was going to say…I ask her to please connect me to him and allow him to speak for himself. I was connected to her Case Management supervisor named Kevin Niemcewicz. I was asked to explain my issue to him and while doing so, I included the 2 previous claims one on the water heater that was denied due to the customer service rep for CHW putting in the wrong name of the broken part as well as the service tech telling her it was the wrong part she was documenting. And the other for our clothes dryer that took over a month and several service charges and never was properly fixed so we had to dry clothes for 5 full cycles to get them dry, and after paying our premium and several serval service charges we still ended up having to purchase a new dryer. He did not want to hear about the other claims, and I told him I was using them to establish a pattern for him when it came to CHW fixing broken items that they “claim” to cover. Kevin still denied the claim stating that the picture he received was of an inside unit and it was not being covered due to rust and corrosion … which is something completely different than the denial email that was sent out to us. He sent the picture that they were sent by the technician and continued to insist that it was on our inside unit… which it is NOT! It is the outside unit and is exposed to the elements year-round and some dust, dirt and debris are expected as it is outside. After a lengthy conversation back and forth as to where the unit is located, he stated that he (Kevin) has been in the HVAC industry for 17 years (yet he works at CHW) and is NOT licensed but worked under someone who holds a license, he can tell by the picture that it IS IN FACT my inside unit that is in the picture and it IS NOT COVERED under their policy and the denial decision stands and will not be changed for any reason. I again asked him why they could not contact the company they (CHW) contracted to come and diagnose the issue and have them tell them that it was caused by normal wear and tear. He proceeded to tell me that the decision would NOT BE CHANGED FOR ANY REASON! I informed him that I was aware of the numerous lawsuits currently against them including 3 open class action lawsuits and that I had filed complaints with the BBB, the Texas Attorney General and added our information to the class action lawsuit. He replied with “why would you do that before giving us a chance to correct the issue”? I told him that I left the last line stating “IF THE OUTCOME SHOULD CHANGE THEN I WOULD NOTIFY THEM AND WITHDRAW MY COMPLAINT” at the same time he is asking me this question I had received an email that was sent before I began speaking to Kevin stating that the claim was denied and closed. So, I in return asked him why CHW would send out an email closing the case before I had the chance to speak with him and try to resolve the issue. He had no response to the question. I requested a cancellation of my policy and a refund of my money and he cancelled the policy and made a note on the account to issue a refund in the amount of $120 which would be in the form of a check and would be received by me within 30 days (which would be by 02/09/2020). We shall see what happens.
***See additional notes regarding service provided by Choice Home Warranty***


*** This is not the only issue I have had with Choice Home warranty not covering items that are “claimed” to be covered. I submitted a request for my water heater to be fixed through a lady (unknown name due to refusal to give) with (“CHW”) customer service and because she put down the wrong part name that was broken, even though we tried telling her that was the incorrect part name, the claim was denied and I was forced to purchase a new water heater after paying my monthly fee the service fee for them to send a company to come and look at the water heater. The Technician also tried to tell her that the part she was reporting as broken was incorrect. She argued with him saying that the part he was talking about was technically named "whatever term she used" which is NOT COVERED in our contract. After an hour or so he finally gave up and left it to us to handle (I don’t blame him). He also told us that His company had decided that once they completed the tickets they had already received, they were canceling their contract with (“CHW”) due to them denying most claims and if the claims were approved, it was taking them months to get paid through (“CHW”). We had to purchase a new water heater as well as tear out the sheetrock that had molded due to the water heater breaking and replace it all, from start to finish (which cost additional funds).

*** I submitted a request for my clothes dryer to be checked and fixed and (“CHW”) sent out a company to “fix” it. The first “issue” the technician said was the issue he got approved and ordered the part and came back 2 weeks later to finally install it. Once the install was complete and the technician had left, I found the old part that was removed from my dryer laying in my front yard. Two (2) days later we had to call (“CHW”) again because the dryer still wasn’t drying the clothes. They sent the same technician out and although he was not happy about having to come back out, he determined that the heating element was out. He spoke with (“CHW”) and got an approval and ordered the part. After 2 more weeks he finally showed up to “fix” the dryer. He spent 3 hours in my living room talking about politics while he let the dryer run. He claimed it heated up well and was fixed. I went to dry a load of clothes only to find that the dryer still wasn’t getting hot. I received a call from (“CHW”) asking me to take a survey about my experience and to please rate them a 5. I explained that I could not take the survey because the dryer still was not fixed. The gentleman opened another ticket and the same Technician was sent back out for a third (3rd) time. He then expressed that he was not happy to have been sent out when he had already “fixed” the dryer twice before and it must be something we were doing to the dryer or just didn’t know how to run it. He spent 2 hours looking at our dryer while cursing under his breath and sent my 14-year-old son to “clean out” the lint trap under the house (my son was not being paid to do the job of the technician). He finally came to a conclusion as to what the issue was and while putting our dryer back together, he broke some clips. He ordered what was needed to “fix” the issue and the clips he broke and had them sent to my address. The day they arrived we called and let him know they had come in. Several weeks passed and he FINALLY came back out to “fix” our dryer once more. (note it has been over 2 months since our dryer worked. We were having to take our clothes to the laundry mat which was costing us additional funds on top of the service fees and monthly fee to “CHW”) I am not sure what he “fixed” on the dryer other than replacing the clips he broke (except for the one he broke again while trying to put back on) but our dryer still was not fixed. In order to dry one (1) standard load of clothes (it didn’t matter if it was light material or heavy material) the dryer had to run for 5 FULL cycles to dry the one load. I contacted CHW and was told that the technician turned in a completed ticket that stated the dryer was fixed and there was nothing further they could do to fix it. I was forced to purchase another dryer even though CHW states if they cannot fix it, cannot get the parts for whatever reason they will replace the appliance.
***please see information (including links) on current and past lawsuits against Choice Home Warranty***

***I searched the internet and found several lawsuits for fraud against Choice Home Warranty, including Arizona and New Jersey. I found one (1) lawsuit that had been settled for over $700,000 (against “CHW”) and was settled out of court. I also found several class actions lawsuits against Choice Home Warranty and forwarded our information to them and will await a response from the attorneys regarding the class action lawsuit. I also found many, many pages of complaints on the BBB site (there were 4,830 complaints made against Choice Home Warranty on the Better Business Bureau website, as of June 28, 2019. There are currently 5,263 complaints on the BBB site as of 01/07/2020) for Choice Home Warranty doing the same thing to countless customers which is offering a service and using a term “normal wear and tear” to deny the claim and avoid paying for the product that is “claimed” to be covered.
*** Links to lawsuits***
https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2019/10/02/choice-home-warranty-faces-fraud-charges-amidst-lawsuit/3841804002/

https://www.bbb.org/us/nj/edison/profile/home-warranty-plans/choice-home-warranty-0221-90048733/complaints

https://www.app.com/story/money/business/2015/06/15/choice-home-warranty/71248424/

https://www.consumerclassactionlawyers.com/choice-home-warranty-class-action-investigation.html

https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/legal-news/home-warranty-insurance-lawsuit/home-warranty-lawsuit-insurance-32-20110.html




Choice Home Warranty Corporate office
1090 King Gorges Post Road
Building 10 suit 1007
Edison NJ 08837

Posted by

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Select Home Warranty needs to be ordered to comply with fixing consumers appliances. We have a fridge that they had someone come out to fix and that person never ran he proper diagnosis and then lied as they made up things to warrant them coming out . We could not afford to have another person come out and SHW denied entire claim without even looking at the true that and with all the proof we gave them they still ignored it. I finally had to hire someone else and cost us over $475 for them to come out. I want to get reimbursed as they never honored our claim the first time. They broke the contract and failed to fix it. What that incompetence person did had nothing to do with the real broken issue. I just want to get reimbursed and for them to be held accountable to the reimbursement . If they had hired someone who know what they are doing we would not be in the mess. Don’t use them! I don’t wish this on anyone. I requested to speak to management and they refused to talk to us. Sent letters and they ignore them. Is this a real company? Then why aren’t they honoring what they stand for?

Posted by

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WARNING: Please DO NOT chose Choice Home Warranty for your home appliances insurance. It is a FRADULENT BUSINESS and they are only after making profit and ripping people off. They should be shut down and taken to court for lying to people and stealing their money. They do not follow through with what they advertise and they basically refuse to pay you or give you only a tiny fraction of cost to repair or replace your appliance. Choice technicians are not good at all and very inexperienced and when Choice sends their own technicians (with you paying 45 dollars visit charge plus your monthly premium fee), they usually write down a false diagnosis that is not covered under Choice Home Warranty and you end up fixing the appliance with your own money in addition to your monthly premium and 45 dollars service charge! This has happened to me a few times with them already.

Posted by

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I canceled my Choice Home Warranty policy today, Monday, October 14, 2018, and went with a PA Company, where I am a resident. The last three times I needed covered repairs, the "service people" were very unprofessional. I needed a ceiling fan replaced and the first "service person" I contacted called to say his truck broke down, and he needed my help getting a replacement vehicle to get to the job site. When I called Choice, they sent out a second technician who spent more time on the phone than he did replacing the old ceiling fan. The fan was wobbling so badly, I had to call Choice a third time, and a week later, they sent out a service person from the same company who re-installed the fan, but complained that it was "his day off", and he didn't appreciate having to come and do the job all over again. And I had to go purchase the ceiling fan myself, because none of the service people had the time to do so, even though I provided them with all the information they needed to purchase the fan. I'm a senior citizen, and didn't need all the aggravation.

Posted by

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. Denied claim due to picture of AC coil. CHW stated via picture coils were dirty and not maintained, however, their own technician stated coils were clean and system well maintained. thanks Dan Buttrey

Looking for legal help. NC

Posted by

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In the heat of the summer heat index over 100 sometimes 110 index....takes 4 weeks then declined due to normal wear for reasonable use....Technicians are not repair people...the technicians are people retired or not certified that deliver an opinion that are per the Choice home warranty wishes.....They make the fraud by selling the warranty and creating decline claim circumstances.....most circumstances are false and the technician is not certified. Bad Faith all over their dealings.. We keep on sweating from June to August 2018.....Worthless Home Waranty

Posted by

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Been with [Home Warranty] for over 10 years and have been happy until now! Your customer service is horrible and unwilling to help solve problems that we were having with 2 unqualified service contractors . One that damaged our motherboard and the other who kept canceling appointments and made a deceitful recommendation . Where upon a customer service rep suggested a cash out to us which later denied us this option. Not having heat in the winter because of a company that is being runned by telephone operators is crimson and fraudulent and you are not standing by what we are paying for ! Disgraceful !

Posted by

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I agree with this complaint. I purchased the home warranty on three of my homes (rental properties) and they denied repairs, companies refused to provide service due to the issue of the home warranty failure to pay or simply they just never responded to the repair request.

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